Mercy & Compassion
by Noel E. Bordador
Once, I encountered an old woman who was begging for money. Though I do not know the name of this woman nor know where she lives, I would never forget her anymore after that encounter. I was walking with a friend when she came out of nowhere and accosted me as she asked for money. I am not sure why- perhaps a momentary failure of compassion, or perhaps compassion fatigue- but I ignored her. While she kept following, she finally took hold of my arm and shirt and with a piercing sound she said, “Sir, I am not begging for myself, but I am begging for my daughter who has cancer. And I beg you, please have mercy.” It was when my eyes met hers that I started to feel a welling up of emotions or feelings from – it seems- the depths of myself, and it shook me so that I could only behold the depth of the sufferings of another human person, and enabled me to be one with her and get her some help, however puny my efforts were. Mercy and compassion so shake us so as to move us to action. Splanchna is one of the Greek words used today in the Gospel and it means mercy or compassion. It literally means, “the insides” referring to the heart, liver, lungs, stomach, and refers to visceral compassion that emanates from the depth of one’s being, a compassion felt not only as a psychic phenomenon, but bodily as well. Jesus shakes with compassion is probably a loose way of translating Mark 6:34. But compassion and mercy is not just an attribute of Jesus; it is also an attribute of God (see Luke 1:78). To follow Jesus is to have the same mercy and compassion on others.
©2019 Noel E. Bordador
Noel Bordador is a queer Episcopal priest in the Philippines. He runs Nazareth House, a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality for persons with HIV/AIDS in Manila.
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